The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) and the African Union (AU) this week joined the resumed Sudan peace talks in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as mediators focused on more stakeholders seeking consensus.
The Jeddah talks, also supported by the US, essentially involve the protagonists: The Sudanese Armed Forces (Saf) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Both sides said on Wednesday they are willing to re-enter negotiations.
The Saf said in a statement it was going back to the table “complete what was previously agreed upon, which is the full implementation of the Jeddah Declaration, to facilitate humanitarian work and the return of our citizens and normal life to the cities where the rebels wreaked havoc looting, burning, random bombing and raping.”
“We hope that the other party will show credibility, realism, and the will to reach a solution that will stop the war and end the suffering of our people,” RSF added.
The two sides have been fighting since April 15 and Saf pulled out of Jeddah talks in July, accusing RSF of not being serious. Multiple ceasefire agreements were also broken violence continued that has now killed at least 9,000 people and displaced some 5.4 million people.
On Thursday, Igad and the AU sent representatives, signaling rechanneling their parallel efforts to the Jeddah peace talks that seem to be amenable to Sudan’s warring parties.
Saf, led by Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, had earlier refused the Igad Quartet team led by Kenya, South Sudan and Djibouti, citing bias towards RSF leader Mohamed Hamdani Daglo Hemedti.
Igad Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu said the bloc is co-facilitating the talks with the African Union.
“The talks are aimed at achieving a durable humanitarian ceasefire,” Dr Workneh said.
“Igad, together with the AU will continue their ongoing engagements and consultations with the stakeholders to convene a Sudanese-led-and-owned comprehensive, all-inclusive political dialogue that shall take place in the Igad region.”
Mediators hope the new round will end bloodshed. Sudan’s Troika (Norway, UK and US) said on Thursday they also welcome the meeting between various political groups in Sudan in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa this week as it signals inclusive talks.
“We welcome the fact that, in the midst of an active conflict, a wide array of Sudanese civilian actors from both inside and outside Sudan… were able to come together for this important initial meeting,” said US Department of State Spokesperson Mathew Miller.
“We are encouraged that the meeting led to a collective commitment to convene a larger gathering with more diverse representation from Sudan in the coming months.
The groups included representatives of historically marginalised groups and areas, Resistance Committees, trade unions, professional associations, civil society groups, political parties, new initiatives, and independent national figures.
Earlier, Burhan had reached out to armed groups that had signed a peace deal with the Transitional Sovereign Council in 2020.
The meeting was attended by members of Sudan's Transitional Sovereign Council, led by Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, as well as 14 political parties on the invitation of South Sudan which had mediated the original agreement.
Tut Gatluak, the head of the South Sudan mediation team on Sudan, said that they had invited parties to Juba on Tuesday to find a mutually agreeable solution to the Sudan conflict.
The renewed pressure for peace came as aid organisations warned of worsening humanitarian crisis. The Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP), an international protection agency said on Thursday extreme violence has escalated this week including in El Fashir (North Darfur) and Nyala (South Darfur). It blamed it on the indiscriminate use of heavy weapons against civilian infrastructure such as hospitals.
“The situation for communities in Darfur is dire,” said Nic Pyatt, the Head of Mission for NP in Sudan.
NP has been providing protection to civilians and “accompanying those in need of medical care and help them access humanitarian aid. But continual fighting has raised the burden, it said.
“These needs are huge, and the ongoing attacks – particularly against civilian buildings like hospitals – are depriving people of humanitarian support they desperately need,” Pyatt said.